Financial planning encompasses a number of critical areas, including retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, investment management, cash management and budgeting. Depending on a person’s needs, it may also include education funding, charitable and planned giving, trust management and planning for long-term care. 

           By creating a financial plan, an individual will have a better picture of where he/she is going in life - and how to get there.  Start by answering five basic questions that will create a foundation on which to base your financial planning decisions.  These answers will help shape the profile of your financial plan. 

          First, try and find out just what are your goals in areas like lifestyle, retirement, saving for college education and health care for yourself as well as your dependents?  Second, ask yourself when you want to reach these goals?  Third, determine what steps you have already taken toward achieving these goals?  Fourth, ascertain your feelings about taking investment risks in order to gain a potential higher rate of return?  Fifth, decide on how involved you want to be in monitoring progress toward these goals?

            As you can see, financial planning is not a product... It is a process.  This process is really a series of steps taken to help yourself accomplish your goals.  The critical question is: Can you be fully involved in this process?  If the answer is yes, well and good, do it yourself.  If not, perhaps you are better off working with a Personal Financial Planner, who will first gather and analyze data about your income and expenses, taxes, insurance coverage, retirement plans, wills, trusts, investments and other information relevant to the overall financial situation.  

          The financial planner will be able to help you set realistic goals, identify key financial issues concerning these goals, and prepare a list of recommendations and alternative strategies for achieving these goals. Each strategy, from tax planning to investments, will be recommended in the context of other strategies to achieve the overall results.  With his assistance, you will learn to use specific financial products, such as insurance or annuities, but only as ends to accomplish the goals that have been established.

            Once you have decided on which recommendations to follow, the planner will help you implement those decisions. But this is not the end of the process.  There is still the need to periodically review and, if necessary, revise the plan.  Perhaps, you want to talk to one of our experienced financial planners, Steve or Natalie.